1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Should I world build - or just write the story

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Mithnen, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. Mithnen

    Mithnen Acolyte

    6
    0
    1
    I have a quick question. I like writing Fantasy. But I've never really got involved with all the world-building like Tolkien or Martin; I've simply used other eras and used them rather than actually creating a world.

    My question is: Should I seriously consider creating a world, and if so are there any shortcuts or ideas that can help me do so? Having been an ardent follower of Tolkien I find I'm terribly influenced by his writing; especially from the point of view of his Middle Earth and I'd like to get out of that if possible.

    Any hints or advice would be gratefully received.
     
  2. JGCully

    JGCully Scribe

    34
    13
    8
    Write the story. The world will grow with the telling :).

    That's how I got the first book finished. The danger with going too far into the detail of the world, I've found anyway, is you want to tell the reader everything; even if it has nothing to do with the story.

    A basic idea is a good start. Write the story, then grow the world. That's my opinion anyways.
     
    kennyc likes this.
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,651
    3,136
    313
    If you're going to worldbuild, don't forget to think through your story along with it. Don't worldbuild in a vacuum. Ideally, you want to always be thinking of awesome ways that what you're building would be used in the story.

    Also, it helps to give yourself a framework for your worldbuilding, like focusing on the big five areas: Magic, Government, Ecology, Warfare and Culture. Pay heed towards getting a handle on what it helps to have in advance and what kind of details can wait, and how long they can wait. I also find that giving things a number helps a lot. The four nations, the six wars, the ten treasures, the three tragedies, and so on. It helps to visualize gaps - you do not need to plug the gaps, but it helps to create this more realistic image of a world that's more complicated than you'll ever get your head around.

    Finally, while you're in this preplanning stage, run with all of the good ideas, build them until you find even better ones. You can trim and prune things back in the later stages.
     
    kennyc likes this.
  4. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Minstrel

    86
    23
    18
    Just write half the time. just state a basic idea of the world then go from there. World building can be a massive distraction from actually getting things done.
     
    kennyc and NetherLord like this.
  5. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    386
    93
    28
    It's good you want to branch out and start creating your own things, and I would suggest just start writing and see what happens. If the world falls apart and seems unrealistic and flat then you'll know if future you're the sort if person who needs to plain of their setting to save time in the future.
    But try to think of your first draft as like a REALLY in-depth plan that can be changed at any time. Research can be done after the fact, that way you're not getting bogged down in tons of world-building and, once the book is written, you can read it and ask yourself what the setting needs.
    Maybe adding some history would help or maybe some systems need thinking out better - you don't know a lot of that stuff until you have your actual manuscript.
     
  6. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    335
    155
    43
    When I create a protagonist i think about their wardrobe, diet, employment, mode of transportation, social status, economic and financial status, sexuality, race, gender, hair style, beliefs, superstitions, home, furniture, weapons and favourite hangouts and hobbies. All of these things are also world-building at micro level. As I add more characters and get my characters to do stuff and go places i add more details to the world.

    By the time I have finished the story I have completed the world building. I just make sure I write notes as I do the world building to avoid making mistakes like having Arakon IV inherit the throne when he was six, marry when he was seven and be a dad at nine because i didn't check the birth and coronation dates or I state in chapter one Eros is north of Lustina but in chapter twelve I put Eros south of Lustina.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    5,907
    3,779
    313
    Quick questions require slow answers.

    There are many guides to world building on the Net. Take a look and see if any of them seem helpful. There are no shortcuts but there are whole galaxies of starting points.

    You say you write fantasy, which means you have whole completed stories, yes? Since that's working for you, where's the problem? If it's change of scenery you're looking for, there are whole settings practically ready-made. Steampunk and urban fantasy come to mind.

    Quick questions often generate not answers but more questions.
     
  8. NetherLord

    NetherLord Acolyte

    9
    2
    3
    I for one have trouble telling the story but am passionate about lore and world building, even building characters, but I can't seem to focus on scenes and dialog.
     
  9. Ewolf20

    Ewolf20 Minstrel

    86
    23
    18
    I agree. I struggle with those alot but it doesn't hurt to try.
     
    NetherLord likes this.
  10. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    606
    65
    28
    Both. Although usually the world grows out of the story. Do make sure there's some world building in there though. I do know some people who keep the world building info on their blog/website and put links in.
     
    NetherLord likes this.
  11. RChabot

    RChabot New Member

    2
    0
    1
    Are you writing one story or multiples? one story might only need enough worldbuilding for the areas that affect the story, multiple stories in the same universe/world will need more worldbuilding.
     
  12. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    2,917
    1,408
    163
    My personal preference is to start with worldbuilding, and then letting the world help shape the story.

    At the moment, how are you planning to proceed?
     
    NetherLord likes this.
  13. I reeeeeeally don't recommend just starting to write and figuring it out as you go. You'll make things very tough on yourself that way. But you don't have to go all the way, either. I usually just start out with basic foundational things and some details here and there and let the rest develop.

    But PLEASE do figure out the basics ahead of time. Tech level and the rules of your magic system (if any magic) are big ones.

    citations: personal experience
     
  14. EponasSong

    EponasSong Scribe

    34
    22
    8
    [QUOTE="
    But PLEASE do figure out the basics ahead of time. Tech level and the rules of your magic system (if any magic) are big ones.
    [/QUOTE]

    Agree with above. Though it would be quite time consuming to figure out every little detail, flying by the seat of your pants can cause quite the catastrophe later on. You could write a short story to help figure it out for your own reference. Kind of like a testing ground. You have no expectations to actually publish it so there's no pressure. Helped me.
     
  15. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,189
    794
    113
    Start wherever feels the most comfortable to you. If getting the worldbuilding/setting down seems the most common sense to how you work, then do that. If telling the story is a better approach at first, then go with it. Only you can figure out what is the most effective strategy to how you create.

    Some writers work in this way though. I create the story as I go and cannot work in any other way. When I get to the end, the story already has its proper structure and I don't need to make any major changes. Your experience will be different than the OP's. What works for one writer does not work for another.
     
  16. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,189
    794
    113
    Agree with above. Though it would be quite time consuming to figure out every little detail, flying by the seat of your pants can cause quite the catastrophe later on. You could write a short story to help figure it out for your own reference. Kind of like a testing ground. You have no expectations to actually publish it so there's no pressure. Helped me.[/QUOTE]

    This is so not even the case. I mean, if you're an outliner then it's going to seem like a feat to pants a novel. But as a longtime pantser who tried outlining for years and could not finish a story to save my life, I have to say that it is the mystery that keeps me going. I will give up on a story if I plan it all the way to the end. I don't know...suppose I just find it...disingenuous maybe? when writers who don't work in one specific way tell other writers they shouldn't work in that way either because it hasn't worked for THEM. Everyone creates differently and just my 2 cents that we should support each other in that diversity.
     
    Firefly likes this.
  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    5,907
    3,779
    313
    >flying by the seat of your pants can cause quite the catastrophe later on.
    The chief problem with flying by the seat of your pants is the poor aerodynamics of pants.
     
    Firefly likes this.
  18. I’m not talking about outlining; I’m no outliner. I’m referring specifically to foundational world building details because those are an absolute nightmare to iron out.

    Worldbuilding can be pretty holey starting out tbh, but starting with nothing at all is gonna necessitate like 2 more drafts. Just like. Establish things like the basic “rules” for everything. If you don’t know if the transportation is trains or wooden carts, that can ruin your whole plot if you try to change it later.

    Or don’t. Just be prepared for rewriting in excess. Don’t recommend, but someone with a longer attention span than me might handle it.
     
  19. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

    136
    76
    28
    I don't think Chessie is referring to outlining as in outlining the plot, but the argument is pretty much the same as the outlining/pantsing argument and I think the answer basically comes down to the same thing, which is that planning works better for some people and discovery works better for others. For me, I tend to confuse myself and get lost in the world building if I try to do to much before I start, so writing is where I figure a lot of it out. I don't need to know whether my characters travel by train or cart or whatever until that information becomes relevant, and then I choose one and try to stick with it after that. As long as you don't forget what you've already established, or change your mind, (both of which can also happen if you plan things ahead of time) you shouldn't run into too many extra problems.
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,189
    794
    113
    ^^ Yes, that was exactly my point.
     
Loading...

Share This Page